[SEATTLE, WA] – U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) and lead sponsor of H.R. 1384, the Medicare for All Act of 2019, announced today thatSeattle resident Joey Massa, will join her as her guest at the State of the Union in Washington, DC, February 4, 2020. Massa is a 29-year-old Washington National Guard veteran and Stage IV pancreatic cancer survivor. When he was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer in 2015, Massa was covered by health insurance thanks to a provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until the age of 26. However, after two years of being in remission, Massa’s cancer reappeared and his illness hampered his ability to work full-time and stay covered. As a result, Mass incurred over $10,000 in medical debt due to his cancer treatment.
Jayapal invited Massa to highlight his story and the story of families and patients across Washington’s Seventh Congressional District and the need to pass Medicare For All to ensure that everyone has guaranteed, comprehensive health care
“I am so excited to join Congresswoman Jayapal for the 2020 State of the Union address and to advocate for Americans everywhere who deserve the health care that Medicare for All would provide,” said Massa. “When I was initially diagnosed with terminal cancer, I thought my hardest task would be staying alive. I never imagined that financial recovery after treatment, even with insurance, would be a burden that I now worry about carrying for the rest of my life. It is far beyond time we take profits out of America’s health care equation and give every American access to reliable, affordable, high quality health care.”
“I’m so delighted that Joey Massa will join me for the State of the Union. It’s unconscionable that so many Americans, even those lucky enough to have health insurance, have to choose between paying rent or paying for their prescription drugs. Getting sick in America—the wealthiest nation on earth—shouldn’t result in lifelong financial debt and shouldn’t drive 500,000 people into bankruptcy each year,” said Jayapal. “House Democrats are doing everything in our power to fight the Trump Administration’s outrageous actions to strip protections for people with preexisting conditions and to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Even as we do everything we can to fight these attacks in the short-term, the plan that will finally take on the for-profit health insurance companies and Big Pharma, and will guarantee every single American comprehensive, quality health coverage and lower overall health care costs for families is Medicare for All.”
At 3:30 p.m. PT on Monday, February 3, 2020 in Seattle, U.S. Representative Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and Massa will hold a media availability to discuss the upcoming State of the Union. Jayapal will also be available to take questions about recent reports about CBP targeting Iranian Americans at the U.S.-Canada border, the Impeachment Trial of President Donald J. Trump, the State of the Union, and other news of the day.At 6:00 p.m. PT on Monday evening, Jayapal will hold a town hall at the Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, Washington. The town hall will be open to the press.
Since introducing the Medicare for All Act of 2019 on February 27, 2019, Jayapal has secured four hearings in the House on the bill—the first hearings ever scheduled in Congress on Medicare for All—in the House Energy and Commerce, Rules, Budget, and Ways and Means committees. The bill is now supported by more than half of the House Democratic Caucus, more than 30 labor unions and 250 economists, and thousands of grassroots advocates and activists around the country.
In December, House Democrats voted to pass the improved H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act. Over many months, Jayapal worked with Speaker Nancy Pelosi to expand the scope of the bill so millions more families could benefit from this critical legislation. Jayapal and the CPC negotiated critical improvements to H.R. 3, including: increasing the number of drugs negotiated each year; preventing pharmaceutical price spikes for families with private health insurance plans; replacing arbitration with direct negotiation; and preventing price-gouging in launch prices. Jayapal’s amendment to the legislation would extend price spike protection to drugs covered by group health plans and insurance coverage, and determine a mechanism for individuals and the plans to receive a rebate for any money spent on drugs that have seen their price rise above the rate of inflation.
Unfortunately, President Trump and Senate Republicans continue blocking legislation to lower costs and protect patients. Meanwhile, three days into this year, Big Pharma had already increased drug prices on more than 400 medicines. President Trump’s lawsuit to repeal the Affordable Care Act also recently moved forward, once again putting the health care of millions in jeopardy.
Joey Massa Bio
Joey Massa is a 29-year-old Washington National Guard veteran and Stage IV Pancreatic cancer survivor. Massa’s youth was divided between living along the Gulf Coast and his family’s farm in Eastern Washington. After attending Washington State University, Massa served in the Washington National Guard for six years from 2009-2015. When he was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer in 2015, Massa was covered by health insurance thanks to a provision in the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until the age of 26. However, after two years of being in remission, Massa’s cancer reappeared and his illness hampered his ability to work full-time and stay covered. As a result, Mass incurred over $10,000 in medical debt due to his cancer treatment. Joey, his partner, and their dog live on their boat in Ballard. He is the American Legion Department of Washington Chaplain and ran as an independent progressive in Seattle’s most recent city council race.
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Issues: 116th Congress